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(Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)

Is “Bar Rescue” Real or Staged? We Found Out


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On every episode of Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer uses his trademark no-nonsense attitude to help failing bars turn into profitable businesses. The show has been on since 2011 and is now in its 8th season, airing on Paramount Network, toting hundreds of businesses that seem to be in total disarray. It's easy to wonder if the bars (which are shown to be losing money, have awful waitstaff, and horrible food), can actually be as bad as they're shown on Bar Rescue, or if it is staged drama created for TV.

Bar and nightclub owners actually apply to be on the show in hopes that Taffer will be able to turn their business around. Once accepted to be rescued, Taffer's team installs hidden cameras for their "recon" and then uses that intel to introduce new (and better) business practices, retrain staff, create a better menu, and renovate the inside.

Next comes the stress test, an event to see if the "new" bar's employees can handle the changes and offer better service. Finally, there's one more stage of training and then a re-opening to celebrate the rescued bar. After that, the bars are on their own about whether they want to use Taffer's change or revert back to their old ways.

So is Bar Rescue Real or Staged?

The businesses that apply for Bar Rescue are really struggling and do need the expertise of Taffer and his team. Sometimes, though, events could be dramatized for the screen. Many of our favorite reality series are dramatized at some point -- or edited in a way to maximize entertainment value. Whether it's a few scripted lines or reenacting something not caught by camera, a little staging here and there is quite common.

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In an interview with Distractify, Nita Wyatt, co-owner of Schafer's Bar and Grill (season 5 episode 7), said she was given lines that weren't completely truthful about the narrative in the episode. Her husband, co-owner Ryan Burks, claims he was told by production to say the bar was losing $10,000 a month, even though that wasn't true.

Season two bar Piratz Tavern closed with bar owner Tracy blaming the reality TV media circus. In a later statement on Facebook, Piratz Tavern said that the Bar Rescue team approached Piratz Tavern for a "back to the bar" episode.

In the Facebook post, Tracy says, "[the back to the bar episode] was basically coerced and staged to be an opening act for a re-rescue. I was told to bring in several changes of clothes to make it appear that filming covered several days. As usual they brought in a bunch of extras to fill the house and we were told what to say and with whom to speak.

These claims definitely make it seem like Bar Rescue is fake, although many bars were struggling and have greatly benefited from Taffer's work -- even if the show is dramatized.

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Are the bars from Bar Rescue still open?

One of the most popular episodes of the show "Things That Go Pahrump in the Night" (season 5 episode 23) was also one of the most dramatic. The owner, Russ, was suffering from an eye disease that caused loss of vision and was also in debt from taking loans out for the bar.

Taffer, chef Vic Vegas, and mixologist Daniel Ponsky went in to rescue the bar. After the show, the bar stayed open for a bit, but ultimately closed on September 17, around the season finale of Bar Rescue that year.

According to Bar Rescue Updates, Bar Rescue has rescued 212 bars and only 94 have closed. Even though that's almost half, Bar Rescue definitely has a good success rate given the state of the bars before the rescue.

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The show has been on since 2011 and is now in its 8th season, airing on Paramount Network. With the last season having wrapped in June 2022, it's the perfect time to binge the series before season 9.

READ MORE: 10 of the Best Dive Bars in Austin, Texas

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